EFCA-FIDIC webinar highlights key MDB role in delivering quality infrastructure

11 Oct 2022

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The latest event in FIDIC’s annual webinar series was a joint EFCA-FIDIC webinar on Boosting project preparation of quality infrastructure with the multilateral development banks which took place on Tuesday 11 October 2022.

Introducing the webinar, which was organised by FIDIC’s international financial institutions committee, FIDIC president Tony Barry said that FIDIC was really pleased to be taking part in the webinar with EFCA on such an important subject for the industry. “It is important that we bring key stakeholders together to discuss the key challenges that we face as an industry - and indeed as a world - and I am proud to be working in a sector where such discussions can take place in a spirit of collaboration and partnership where we all work together to develop solutions that can make a real difference,” he said.

“The Covid-19 crisis has triggered a reshuffling of investment priorities for governments globally and has added further pressure on already-constrained fiscal space in lower and middle-income countries. Ensuring quality in infrastructure investment has become more critical than ever for the efficient and effective use of limited resources for a resilient and sustainable future, so, we are delighted to be part of this webinar with EFCA today,” said Barry”.

Welcoming attendees on behalf of EFCA, its president Benoit Clocheret said that he was delighted to be participating in this dialogue with the multilateral development banks about how to best deliver quality infrastructure and attract private investment. Clocheret stressed the key role of consulting engineers in bringing the knowledge and expertise that helps clients live up to their sustainability commitments. “We should all work together to make change happen more quickly,” he said.

Webinar chair, Ines Ferguson, president elect of EFCA and director of business development at TYPSA, introduced the line-up of speakers for the event, who included Global Infrastructure Hub CEO Marie Lam-Frendo, Marcos Martinez, associate director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Neeta Pokhrel, chief of water sector group at the Asian Development Bank, Sergio Martínez, senior loan officer at the European Investment Bank and Henri Blas, chief content officer at the Global Infrastructure Hub.

Marcos Martinez, associate director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, talked about the bank’s introduction of sustainable infrastructure within its operational structure. He said that it was critical that the engineering and infrastructure community was fully appraised, updated and up to speed on all the key issues and the bank was working hard to effect this.

Neeta Pokhrel, chief of water sector group at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), spoke about how the ADB was responding to the increasing climate challenges and the demographic pressures in the region in terms of infrastructure investments. “We need to prepare better, re-shift our approach and quantify the risks,” she said and it was important to move ‘up-stream’ with clients to work more closely together. Pokhrel also stressed the need to address capacity and capability and also to factor in adjustments and unpredictability in projects. This would also mean that contracts also needed to be flexible to allow for this, she said.

Sergio Martínez, senior loan officer at the European Investment Bank (EIB), talked about the ‘EU Climate Bank’ role of the EIB and its new climate strategy that is having an important impact in the type of infrastructure projects that are being financed. Martínez explained the impact of the strategy on the bank’s infrastructure investments which had seen the EIB develop a “Paris alignment strategy” which outlined more stringent sustainability criteria. The bank was working with stakeholders to ensure they were signed up to it. Climate risk assessments needed to be factored into the procurement phase of projects, he said.

Henri Blas, chief content officer at the Global Infrastructure Hub (GIH), highlighted how the GIH is helping governments translate sustainability principles into infrastructure investment criteria and how is this attracting private investors. “We did not want to reinvent the wheel but rather to build a consensus around common indicators, such as ‘fast-infra’ which was pioneered by the World Bank,” Blas said. “The objective is to attract private investment and it is still early days but there are clear signs that investors are moving into the sustainable infrastructure sector,” he said. Blas also said that the GIH was also looking to address information and knowledge gaps in the industry by promoting upskilling and capacity building programmes by working with private sector organisations and they would do more of this in future.

Neeta Pokhrel from the Asian Development Bank, said that, as well as paying attention to training and capacity building, it was important to engage a younger cohort of professionals and also to speak with the educational establishments to ensure that sustainability was being addressed at the earliest possible stage. The European Investment Bank’s Sergio Martínez highlighted the importance of organisations like FIDIC and the role that its contracts can play in providing “peace of mind” on projects. “You need strong and sound professionals and investment in them is not expensive in the long run,” he said.

The Global Infrastructure Hub’s Henri Blas addressed the issue of the increased cost of preparing quality infrastructure projects and said that any additional cost should be balanced by long-term savings, better planning and project development. Integrated solutions and more effective use of data were important in this regard, Blas said, and stakeholders were looking to collaborate in this area. Blas also said that he thought that the market had moved to a position where it was more focused on quality and ESG issues than had been the case previously.

Marcos Martinez from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said that the bank was working closely with its stakeholders to highlight the quality issue. EBRD was looking to stress the benefits of a whole-life costing approach to project development, highlighting that better planned and more sustainable projects were more financially viable in the long run. Getting the right consultants for the right projects was also crucial, Martinez said, which is why the bank took care to bring together appropriate consortiums and teams. This would be particularly important in the reconstruction of Ukraine, he said.

Cristina Ginés, director for business development Europe at SENER Infrastructure, posed a wide range of questions from webinar attendees, which included the need for the industry to be more inclusive in addressing sustainable development issues, training requirements, developing climate risk assessments, the need for a quality-based selection approach and the necessity of involving local citizens and communities in project development.

Summing up the webinar, Ines Ferguson, president elect of EFCA and director of business development at TYPSA, highlighted the need for closer collaboration between all stakeholders involved in project development and the need for meaningful engagement with end users. In his closing remarks, FIDIC president Tony Barry said that there was much work to be done, but that collaboration had shone through as a key requirement and he was delighted that FIDIC and EFCA had been able to facilitate the discussion with the MDBs and give them a platform for the key role that they play in delivering quality infrastructure.

The next event in FIDIC’s 2022 webinar series is a webinar on Going digital – latest industry trends and developments on Tuesday 8 November 2022 at 12 noon CET. Click here to book a place at this free webinar.

Click here to view details of future FIDIC webinars and to book places.

View the video message by Marie Lam Frendo below.

View the webinar recording on the link below

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